Whether you’re familiar with the concept of asset forfeiture or have never heard of the term before, the process of getting your assets back can be long and difficult. For these reasons, it’s recommended that you hire a professional attorney to assist you. First, we’ll explore what asset forfeiture is precisely and how you can fight to get your property or assets back according to a civil asset forfeiture lawyer with our friends at Pioletti Pioletti & Nichols.
What Is Asset Forfeiture?
Let’s first start by explaining precisely what asset forfeiture is. Asset forfeiture allows legal authorities to seize your property if they believe it’s connected in some way to a crime. This property in question can be a vehicle, a house, a business, or a bank account. Some of the most common crimes include drugs, weapons, white-collar crime, and racketeering. For example, police seizing a machine used to counterfeit money or a business used for laundering money.
Of course, when a crime is committed, it’s likely there can be innocent people who had no knowledge that such assets were being exploited for criminal gains. So we’ll now explore ways people can fight against asset forfeiture.
Possible Legal Defenses
There are three primary legal defenses that an attorney can help to prove your innocence. While these defenses may not always allow a person to retain their assets, they can, at the very least, prevent them from being charged with a crime.
Even something minor, like a search and seizure on the highway, requires probable cause. So, for example, it’s unlawful for a police officer to pull you over and demand that they search your vehicle without providing sufficient reason for why they should be able to. Instead, they need to explicitly state the alleged crime they believe you’re participating in, how you’re linked to this crime, and whether or not they think you have an item that helps with it. The courts may dismiss the forfeiture altogether if these elements don’t exist for why they search you.
You Had No Knowledge of the Crime
The fact is that crimes do occur, and certain parties do not know these crimes are happening. For example, a business owner might be unaware that drug deals are happening on their property after peak business hours. Nevertheless, after such a crime is exposed, it’s possible that the authorities can seize any items linked to the crime, including the business itself. However, a business owner can argue that they had no knowledge that any crimes were occurring. The court system can dismiss this case with sufficient evidence, including preventing them from taking away your property.
There are many amendments and laws in place that prevent a person’s property from being taken away without proper reasons. For example, regarding searches and seizures, both state and federal agencies must notify the affected party within a certain timeframe. Since every state has its own rules regarding civil asset forfeiture, it’s best to get into contact with a civil asset forfeiture lawyer near you.
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